Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Transgender Geek

After nearly a month, I'm finally back for a new post. It's always tough for me to get into the groove of things again at the start of a new semester and often makes it difficult to find time to other things, like post to a blog (at least that's the excuse I'm using for not having posted in so long...).

Anyway, I've been wanting to talk for a while about being a transgender geek. By "transgender geek" I mean a transgender person who also identifies as a geek, not a person who is a geek for trangender things (though I may be one of those too since I love discovering anything new related to trangenderism, including films, TV shows, books, blogs, etc.). I touched on this topic a little bit in an earlier post, Cosplay and Conventions on September 18, 2009, but I want to talk about it a little more in depth.

My life as a geek began at a very young age. I remember as a child watching cartoons like G.I. Joe, Voltron and He-Man but those were just preparation for what I consider my first geek passion: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I loved the cartoon and would spend hours playing with the action figures I had collected. The show also featured prominently in my early transgender identity. I remember watching the show one day and wishing I could grow up to be like April O'Neil, the Turtles sexy reporter friend, but feeling I was more likely to grow up to be like Irma, April's frumpy assistant. Dreaming of being a woman when I grew up did not seem strange to me; I was more interested in what type of woman I would be.

April O'Neil

My geek identity continued to develop along with my transgender identity. I've always tended to be more into viusal texts, the Star Wars films, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Audrey Hepbun films, etc., than other forms of expression. I've always been a slow reader and may have felt a little intimidated by the numerous books that made up long-running scifi and fantasy series. I was also really into videogames in junior high and high school, even receiving a scolding from my mother once for having my nose buried in a videogame magazine which she felt would lead me to "never get a girlfriend" (if she only knew at the time what she would be getting upset at me about in the future...). I still play videogames, I do have a Wii, when I can but videogames are usually the first thing to be put to the side when I get busy.

Not long into my high school life I discovered anime and that has remained my main geek passion for over ten years. After twisting my knee at a summer church camp, I was recuperating at home when I first saw the series Sailor Moon. Though I had seen some anime before, Sailor Moon was the first show that seemed noticably different to me. I loved the monster-of-the-week story that expanded as the series went on, the characters you could identify with and, of course, the cute costumes. The series also stood out to me because it featured a cast of female characters in the "boys only" world of afternoon cartoons.

Sailor Moon is a good example of the difficulty I have in separating my geek and transgender identities. For my developing transgender identity, shows like Sailor Moon proved an important milestone by offering female characters to identify with. My love of anime has grown over the years to include many more great shows and great characters. I also regularly attend anime conventions and participate in cosplay, dressing up as my favorite characters and also in my Gothic Lolita finery.

No one's identity can be defined by only one aspect. I believe people need to continue to explore the different aspects of their identity and the way these different aspects interact. I also don't think transgender people should have to hide certain parts of who they are; we've had to do too much of that in our lives. I'm not ashamed to have been a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to play videogames or to be an avid anime fan. I also don't think that having these passions make me any less of a woman. I hope that all transgender people can be as open about who they are and have been, not having to hide certain parts of who they are to try to fit some idea of what it means to be a woman or man.

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